Legislation and Grading

RC 93
H. Amdt. 95

Explanation: H. Amdt. 95 would have prohibited federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Inc. Federal law already prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion, so this amendment would have prevented federal funds from being utilized by a national secular nonprofit organization that provides reproductive and health services.
Amendment Status: The amendment passed in the House.
Why the Secular Coalition approves a “nay” vote: This amendment cut all federal funding to a national nonprofit that provides comprehensive reproductive health services to both men and women. Planned Parenthood services millions of low-income and minority people across the United States. The only reason given for eliminating the funding was a religious preference that the organization cease providing abortions and abortion-related services, for which no federal funds were being used for anyway, and which constitute less than 2 percent of the organization’s activities. The result of this amendment would be to deny millions of women and men safe, scientifically sound, and reliable comprehensive reproductive health care.

RC 204
HR 471:
Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act.
Explanation: HR 471 would have re-authorized the federal voucher program for five years in the District of Columbia, providing $12,000 for high school students and $8,000 for elementary and middle school students for the 2011-2012 school year. In previous years, more than 80 percent of the vouchers were used for private religious schools.
Bill Status: This legislation passed in April under HR 1473, the Department of Defense and Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011. The House vote is recorded under Roll Call 268; the Senate vote number is 61.
Why the Secular Coalition approves a “nay” vote: The federal voucher program is forced upon the D.C. school district and allows more than 80 percent of the taxpayer funds to go to private religious schools. The Department of Education has studied student test scores repeatedly and found no difference between students attending the private schools with vouchers and public schools. The voucher amount is not enough for the majority of families to afford private secular schools, such as Sidwell Friends. However, churches and other houses of worship make their tuition match the amount of the voucher, in effect making the voucher a subsidy for private religious schools.

RC 236
H. Amdt. 245

Explanation: H. Amdt. 245 would have added a new section to the Congressional Acceptance of Scientific Findings: Congress accepts the scientific findings of the Environmental Protection Agency that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.
Amendment Status: The amendment did not pass in the House.
Why the Secular Coalition approves an “aye” vote: Understanding science and technology are critical to every part of our society and economy—as well as the effect such understanding has on issues such as what to teach in schools, what drugs should be approved for the public, what should be considered civil rights. The constituency has a right to know how their elected officials stand on matters relating to science and research.

RC 601
HR 33:
Church Plan Investment Clarification Act.
Explanation: HR 33 would have amended the Securities Act of 1933 to allow certain securities issued in connection with retirement income accounts available only to certain kinds of church plans to be treated as exempted from registration and disclosure requirements under the Act.
Bill Status: The bill passed in the House.
Why the Secular Coalition approves a “nay” vote: This measure offered no comparable exemption to secular nonprofits, resulting in a religious privilege in securities law for churches and clergy.

RC 673
HR 440:
To provide for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia.
Explanation: HR 440 would have directed the president to appoint a special envoy to promote religious freedom of religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia within the State Department. It would require the Special Envoy to: (1) promote the right of religious freedom of religious minorities, denounce the violation of such right, and recommend appropriate U.S government responses to such violations; (2) monitor and combat acts of religious intolerance and incitement targeted against such religious minorities; (3) ensure that the needs of such religious minority communities are addressed, including economic and security needs directly tied to religious-based discrimination and persecution; (4) work with foreign governments of such countries to address inherently discriminatory laws; and (5) coordinate and assist in the preparation of specified reports required by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
Bill Status: The bill passed in the House.
Why the Secular Coalition approves an “aye” vote: This measure allows the executive branch to act on behalf of religious minorities in areas of the world where they are being actively persecuted. Though nontheists are not mentioned, the Secular Coalition is lobbying for their inclusion.

RC 816
H. Con. Res. 13:
Reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States and supporting and encouraging the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions.
Resolution Status: The bill passed in the House.
Why the Secular Coalition approves a “nay” vote: This resolution reaffirmed a national motto that excludes millions of Americans who do not believe in the Judeo-Christian god and encouraged an unconstitutional breach of separation of church and state by encouraging the motto to be displayed in every public building.

Voice Vote
HR 473:
Help to Access Land for the Education of Scouts or HALE Scouts Act.
Explanation: Would have required the conveyance of specified land in the Ouachita Nation Forest (Oklahoma), fair market value, to the Indian Nations Council, Inc., of the Boy Scouts of America—an organization that discriminates against nontheists.
Bill Status: The bill passed in the House.
Why the Secular Coalition approves a “nay” vote: The Boy Scouts of America actively discriminates against nontheistic children who want to join as well as parents and members of the community who wish to be part of the organization. Congress’ action prevents other groups who do not discriminate from bidding on the federal land and potentially costs taxpayers money. The end result is the group who will own the land that once belonged to all Americans will now actively prevent some Americans from being able to enjoy it.

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